The last time I compared Atmos music on a Pure Audio Blu-ray disc with the same content on a streaming service, first with Tidal and then when Apple Music came out with their spatial audio offering, streaming was so much worse that I just had to switch it off.
I recently decided to go back and do another comparison. Tidal still sounds terrible and did not have as many Atmos albums, but I was actually shocked by how much better immersive music sounds on Apple Music played through an Apple TV 4K in a home theater system with a 7.1.4 Atmos speaker layout (Trinnov AL32 AVR, Wisdom Line 2 speakers for all 7 horizontal channels). I compared Solacium and Stale Kleiberg Concertos from the Norwegian label 2L, Yello - Point, Konstantin Reymaier - The New Organ, and Booka Shade - Dear Future Self, and in each case I thought the Apple Music version sounded very, very good.
Someone told me recently that I should not be fooled simply by the difference in the audio bitrate between the “lossless” Dolby TrueHD codec used on Pure Audio Blu-ray discs and the lossy Dolby Digital Plus codec that streaming services use to conserve bandwidth. Apparently Dolby did some internal research a while ago that showed transparency with Atmos is achieved at 768kbps, which is the maximum bitrate for Dolby Digital Plus. I would not have believed this before, but now I am not so sure.
Is anyone aware of recent changes that Apple has made on their end to improve the spatial audio sound quality? Also, I would be interested in whether others are hearing the same thing that I am hearing.